Young at Heart

L.A. Weekly

This L.A. Weekly story begins in Poland, where young people pack theater houses and crowd outdoor stages to see live drama — in that country, it’s not uncommon to see teenagers pressed against steel fences to buy theater tickets as American teenagers often do for rock concerts. The article then asks this pressing question: Why doesn’t vibrant, creative theater in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities attract this kind of attention from the young?

The article examines the cultural forces and other factors that may be contributing to the “graying” of American theater audiences, drawing special attention to the need for increased arts education and attention to the arts in public schools nationwide.

Improving arts-learning programs and bringing them to more children is a new, promising focus of Wallace’s arts work. It is inspired by Gifts of the Muse, a Wallace-commissioned RAND study about the wide and varied benefits of the arts, which concludes that positive childhood arts experiences make people more likely to seek out the arts later in life. To ensure that more children have access to high-quality arts learning and turn them into lifelong appreciators of the arts, Wallace is supporting Dallas and New York City in their efforts to provide better arts education citywide, both in the classroom and after school.

The L.A. Weekly story profiles a theater-education program in Los Angeles, where public funding for arts learning has increased more than fivefold since 2000, and addresses the ways in which community groups can support the school system in its work to connect children with the arts. “After 50 years of arts being taught in schools,” writes author Steven Leigh Morris, “perhaps the culture here, as in Poland, will appreciate their intrinsic as well as their educational value.”

Full article here.